For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: August 9, 2007

Attorney General Recovers Refunds in Undelivered eBay Toys Case

(Boise) – A Boise man who sold toys on eBay, but did not ship the goods after receiving payment, has paid 17 consumers $1,493.53 in restitution, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in May 2007 against Blake Freer, who operated a business called Squared Circle Toys.

The Attorney General became aware of Mr. Freer’s business activities when he received four consumer complaints from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in January 2007. The complaints alleged that Mr. Freer accepted money from consumers for toy wrestling figures but failed to provide the purchased toys or refunds to the consumers. The Attorney General’s Office received similar complaints through March 2007.

To resolve the lawsuit without admitting liability, Mr. Freer agreed to pay restitution to the consumers who filed complaints against him and to pay the Attorney General $1,352.13 for his fees and costs. In addition, Mr. Freer must cooperate with the Attorney General in addressing all future complaints involving Mr. Freer’s business activities.

“Consumers should be cautious when buying on the Internet,” Attorney General Wasden said. “Although Internet shopping has opened up a new world of convenience for many people, the anonymity of these transactions can leave them empty-handed, which is what occurred here.”

The 17 consumers who complained about Mr. Freer lived in the eastern United States and as far away as Sydney, Australia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Hatfield, England.

Attorney General Wasden has these recommendations for consumers shopping on online auction sites:

  • Review the feedback left by prior buyers and avoid sellers with a negative online reputation.
  • Use a credit card. This will ensure protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act and under your card’s terms and conditions in case you need to reverse a charge for non-receipt of goods or services.
  • If you cannot use a credit card, consider employing an escrow service, which protects the interests of both parties. The buyer pays the service, and the money is released to the seller only after the buyer receives and approves the merchandise.
  • Unless you know the seller, avoid using checks, money orders, and wire transfers to make purchases because they offer no legal protections to the buyer and are often used in cases involving fraud.
  • Always retain a receipt and all documentation, including e–mails, regarding the transaction. These documents can help resolve disputes that may arise in the future.
  • If you do not receive your purchased goods within a reasonable time, contact the website’s complaint center. Many websites have strict deadlines for reporting complaints, and some offer their own complaint resolution process. For example, eBay has Square Trade, a free negotiation service to help buyers and sellers amicably resolve their complaints.
  • If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the other party or through the website’s complaint center, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. The center acts as a clearinghouse for Internet fraud complaints. You also may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

The Attorney General’s website contains additional information about Internet safety, as well as other important consumer education issues.

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